Strengthening Food Donation Operations During COVID-19: Key Issues and Best Practices for Governments Around the Globe

The COVID-19 pandemic has produced a public health, economic and humanitarian crisis unprecedented in modern times. The pandemic has impacted lives and livelihoods worldwide, destabilizing economies and food systems with devastating effect on the most vulnerable populations. As a result, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned of a “looming food crisis” accompanying the pandemic and called on governments to implement policies to mitigate food system failures and food access concerns. Avoiding the worst outcomes will require governments to take a strategic and multi-sector approach to repair supply chain fractures that are driving food loss and waste and contributing to hunger and food insecurity. Food banks and other food recovery operations are necessary partners for this effort, as they promote the recovery of safe, surplus food, and ensure it is distributed among those who need it most. Yet, without government action, these institutions may go underutilized as part of the global pandemic response.

This issue brief was developed as a supplement to The Global Food Donation Policy Atlas, a partnership between the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and The Global FoodBanking Network that aims to promote strong food donation policies as solutions to both hunger and food loss and waste. This brief is intended to apprise governments and policymakers addressing COVID-19 food security issues of urgent and effective policy opportunities to support food banks and food recovery operations during this global crisis. Enhancing these operations will enable governments to rapidly deploy emergency food aid, strengthen national and local food systems, prevent costly food loss and waste, and reduce risk of hunger and food insecurity.

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